It takes a lot to raise my eyebrows when it comes to tackle these days. I've been testing and writing about fishing tackle for 12 years now if my memory serves me correctly and it's actually a lot of work to bob and weave through all of the knock-offs and imitations. As time passes, it seems as if original ideas and products are becoming a bit harder to run across.
Truth be told, I got the Abu Garcia Virtual Spinning rod a while ago and it sat in my shop for a month or so. I knew it had some sort of bluetooth technology in it and I winced at the idea of making bass fishing a little too technological for my liking. I'm a big proponent of simplicity and a self-admitted grandpa about some things, so it was a little bit like trying to mix oil and water.
It has been an interesting relationship between this rod and me, however. I actually needed a spare spinning rod for my wacky rigs when the bass started guarding fry this year and I just happened to grab this neon green creation. As I begin fishing it, I started to really appreciate its characteristics and before I knew it, the dang thing ended up staying on my front deck ever since. Bluetooth technology or not, I've really grown to love this rod.
Hang with me and I'll run you through what I've learned about this rod.
Before the technology talk... does it catch fish?
To make a long story short... yes. The Abu Garcia Virtual Spinning Rod handles just about anything I've been able to throw at it. From fishing shaky heads, wacky rigs and Neko rigs throughout the past few months, there's not much it can't do when you're talking about finesse, light-line bass fishing.
I've been using the 7-foot medium-action model and I can do just about any light-line technique with this particular rod. Now I'm not some big-time finesse guru but I can sure hold my own with a spinning rod and I have been quite impressed with this model.
For a $129 price point, you're getting a lot of value for your hard-earned money when you buy this rod.
Incredibly impressive balance
For whatever reason, I've been testing a lot of tip- and butt-heavy spinning rods this year. Maybe I just got on a string of bad luck or something but they just haven't felt "right" in my hands if that makes sense. After a full day on the water, I'll get those hand and forearm pains that tend to be a telltale sign of a poorly balanced rod.
The Virtual Spinning Rod, however, is impressively balanced especially given its affordable, common-man price point. I thought it may be a little butt-heavy at first before I put a reel on it but once I got everything rigged up, I'm quite impressed.
People tend to get super crazy about finesse tackle because, of course, it's important that you feel everything and pay attention to the details when you're fishing in tough or clear-water conditions. While those $400 rods sure are nice, I don't see a thing wrong with this rod at this particular price point.
ANGLR is a company that simplifies the logbook-keeping process for anglers. When I was a kid, I'd spend an hour or two after every fishing trip making notes of effective baits, water color, water temperature and fish behavior. My dad gave me an old tablet of letterhead from his office and some leather notebook he got from a trade show 20 years prior. I thought I was Flip Pallot making poetic notations of my pond-fishing trips.
I guarded that thing with my life... until girls, college fishing and responsibilities got in the way, at least. I didn't make many more entries into my logbook after all of that.
ANGLR and the technology integrated into this rod, however, make off-the-water study so much easier. There's a button built into the butt of the Virtual Spinning Rod that, when pressed, will actually drop a waypoint in your smartphone's free ANGLR app. It automatically records the current barometric pressure, wind speed, time, wind direction and even your exact GPS location. And yes... all of your information on the app remains private so you don't have to worry about other folks seeing how you're catching them.
Now who in the world would have thought that would ever be possible with a fishing rod? Just catch a fish and press a button; even a redneck like me can handle that.
Sensitivity and performance is just as impressive as the technology
All of the bluetooth-type stuff is cool. I totally get it. But I was telling my wife the other day that even if this rod didn't have any crazy technology in it that I'd still buy it. That's how impressed I've been with the rod itself.
I'm able to feel very slight changes in bottom composition when I'm fishing with this rod. When I'm skipping docks with a shaky head I can tell when my bait goes from a soft to hard bottom. It has been pretty tough around here lately in regards to the fishing and the bites have been incredibly subtle; it almost feels like you're dragging a waterlogged leaf when you finally get a bite.
I've been able to feel each and every bite thus far while testing the Virtual Spinning Rod. I think the "Virtual" name may scare away some old-school guys like me but I'm hoping everyone will keep an open mind. Even if you don't use the technology stuff, you'll be more than pleased with this rod.
Although I may have raised an eyebrow when I first got my hands on this rod, I must admit that I'm coming away from my testing really impressed. Do I think you need bluetooth in a fishing rod? No, I do not. But heck, for the folks who want to take their angling to that next level, more power to 'em. As I stated earlier, this rod is a dang good choice for the occasional finesse angler... bluetooth or not.
The Abu Garcia Virtual Spinning Reel is available at the following retailers: